How to Become a Dentist: The Dentist Education Requirements

An overview of training requirements for dentists. Becoming a dentist is a long and difficult process. It is therefore not surprising that the training requirements for dentists are high. After all, dentists have the potential to have an enormously positive impact or to cause serious harm.

Last Updated: 28th November 2018

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What are the Dentist Education Requirements in the UK?


An Overview of the Dentist Education Requirements

Becoming a dentist is a lengthy and challenging process. As a result, it’s unsurprising that dentist education requirements are high. After all, dentists have the potential to have a hugely positive impact or do serious harm. You’re probably glad your dentist is highly qualified, after all!

Generally speaking, you will need a GDC-approved degree-level qualification, which has a very competitive entry. You will also be required to complete placements where you demonstrate your skills and get to know the clinical setting.

Undergraduate Courses in Dentistry

A full degree is a compulsory aspect of dentist education requirements in the UK. Most dentists come from an undergraduate entry background, completing a five-year course. Accelerated programmes are only available for graduate entry. The final two years of these courses will primarily be clinical placements, where you will practice in a range of environments.

You’ll need good A-Levels, often AAB or higher, with Biology or Chemistry. Some universities, such as King’s College London, ask for both.

Scottish Highers are widely accepted usually with AA at Advanced Highers, and the International Baccalaureate generally has a requirement of around 35 or above.

Many universities, including Manchester and Plymouth, have specific GCSE grade requirements, particularly in English, Maths, and Double or Triple Sciences. Some universities, such as Bristol, offer foundation years for those who haven’t quite met the requirements but still show a lot of potential as a dentist.

You might be ineligible to apply to these courses if you are predicted AAB or above at A-Level, so check the requirements carefully – these courses are often aimed at people from disadvantaged backgrounds and shouldn’t be treated as a backup offer!


Graduate Entry

Dentist education requirements for graduate entry are still reasonably steep. Some universities offer four-year accelerated courses where you go straight into the second year.

Some common dentist education requirements with graduate entry are a 2:1 or higher in your original undergraduate course, previous degree-level study in Biology or Chemistry, or that you must apply during your final year of undergraduate study. But there are always exceptions. The University of Glasgow will take a 2:2 in your first undergraduate degree, and some universities require you to sit the full five years of the undergraduate course.

International requirements

The dentist education requirements for overseas practitioners are different again. If you qualified outside of the UK, you may still be able to practice dentistry here. Qualified dentists from the European Economic Area may be able to register with the GDC and practice based on the qualification from their home country.

Those from outside the EEA will need to take an overseas registration examination to assess their skills. International students applying for undergraduate entry will need to check with specific universities to see if their qualifications are accepted.

Dentistry is a hugely rewarding career, and the high dentist education requirements are designed to ensure that the people entering the profession are knowledgeable and passionate about patient care.


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Considering Graduate Dentistry?

We’ve talked about taking Dentistry at graduate entry in this article, but if it’s something you are considering, here are a few pointers in the right direction to get you started. We’ve listed some tips such as how to know whether dentistry is the right path for you, what life is like as a graduate dentistry student as well as the steps to take to start your dentistry journey.

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